Winky's woes

Hermione and Harry find Winky pining for her master over a bottle of Butterbeer

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling

‘Dobby, where’s Winky?’ said Hermione, who was looking around.

‘Winky is over there by the fire, miss,’ said Dobby quietly, his ears drooping slightly.

‘Oh dear,’ said Hermione, as she spotted Winky.

Harry looked over at the fireplace, too. Winky was sitting on the same stool as last time, but she had allowed herself to become so filthy that she was not immediately distinguishable from the smoke-blackened brick behind her. Her clothes were ragged and unwashed. She was clutching a bottle of Butterbeer and swaying slightly on her stool, staring into the fire. As they watched her, she gave an enormous hiccough.

‘Winky is getting through six bottles a day now,’ Dobby whispered to Harry.

‘Well, it’s not strong, that stuff,’ Harry said.

But Dobby shook his head. ‘’Tis strong for a house-elf, sir,’ he said.

Winky hiccoughed again. The elves who had brought the éclairs gave her disapproving looks as they returned to work.

‘Winky is pining, Harry Potter,’ Dobby whispered sadly. ‘Winky wants to go home. Winky still thinks Mr Crouch is her master, sir, and nothing Dobby says will persuade her that Professor Dumbledore is her master now.’

‘Hey, Winky,’ said Harry, struck by a sudden inspiration, walking over and bending down to speak to her, ‘you don’t know what Mr Crouch might be up to, do you? Because he’s stopped turning up to judge the Triwizard Tournament.’

Winky’s eyes flickered. Her enormous pupils focused on Harry. She swayed slightly again and then said, ‘M-master is stopped – hic – coming?’

‘Yeah,’ said Harry, ‘we haven’t seen him since the first task. The Daily Prophet’s saying he’s ill.’

Winky swayed some more, staring blurrily at Harry. ‘Master – hic – ill?’

Her bottom lip began to tremble.

‘But we’re not sure if that’s true,’ said Hermione quickly.

‘Master is needing his – hic – Winky!’ whimpered the elf. ‘Master cannot – hic – manage – hic – all by himself ...’

‘Other people manage to do their own housework, you know, Winky,’ said Hermione severely.

‘Winky – hic – is not only – hic – doing housework for Mr Crouch!’ Winky squeaked indignantly, swaying worse than ever and slopping Butterbeer down her already heavily stained blouse. ‘Master is – hic – trusting Winky with – hic – the most important – hic – the most secret –’

‘What?’ said Harry.

But Winky shook her head very hard, spilling more Butterbeer down herself.

‘Winky keeps – hic – her master’s secrets,’ she said mutinously, swaying very heavily now, frowning up at Harry with her eyes crossed. ‘You is – hic – nosing, you is.’

‘Winky must not talk like that to Harry Potter!’ said Dobby angrily. ‘Harry Potter is brave and noble and Harry Potter is not nosy!’

‘He is nosing – hic – into my master’s – hic – private and secret – hic – Winky is a good house-elf – hic – Winky keeps her silence – hic – people trying to – hic – pry and poke – hic –’

Winky’s eyelids drooped and suddenly, without warning, she slid off her stool onto the hearth, snoring loudly. The empty bottle of Butterbeer rolled away across the stone-flagged floor.

Half-a-dozen house-elves came hurrying forward, looking disgusted. One of them picked up the bottle, the others covered Winky with a large checked tablecloth and tucked the ends in neatly, hiding her from view.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling